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PeerJ. 2017 Dec 15;5:e4071. doi: 10.7717/peerj.4071. eCollection 2017.

How many species of mammals are there in Brazil? New records of rare rodents (Rodentia: Cricetidae: Sigmodontinae) from Amazonia raise the current known diversity.

Author information

Departamento de Ciências Biológicas, Escola Superior de Agricultura "Luiz de Queiroz", Universidade de São Paulo, Piracicaba, São Paulo, Brazil.
Department of Life Sciences, The Natural History Museum, London, United Kingdon.
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, United States of America.
Departamento de Ciências Florestais, Escola Superior de Agricultura "Luiz de Queiroz", Universidade de São Paulo, Piracicaba, São Paulo, Brazil.
Departamento de Ciências Biológicas, Centro de Ciências Humanas e Naturais, Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo, Vitória, Espírito Santo, Brazil.
Contributed equally



Since 1996, when Vivo questioned how many species of mammals occur in Brazil, there has been a huge effort to assess this biodiversity. In this contribution, we present new records for rare species of the sigmodontine rodent genera Rhagomys and Neusticomys previously unknown to Brazilian Amazon. We provided detailed information on the morphologic variation to allow the proper identification of these species. We also furnished updated information on their collection, aiming to establish hypothesis of their geographic distribution, based on SDM's, aiming to hypothesize potential occurrence areas for these species.


Rodent specimens were sampled in separate inventories in two sites of Rondônia State (Hydroelectric Dam Jirau and Parque Nacional de Pacaás Novos) and one site in Pará State (Pacajá), Brazil, and were compared to specimens from museum collections to apply appropriate names. The SDM were conducted using two algorithms for rare species, MaxEnt and randomForest (RF), and were based on seven localities for Rhagomys, and 10 for Neusticomys.


All specimens were collected with pitfall traps. One specimen of genus Rhagomys was trapped in the Hydroelectric Dam Jirau. We identified this specimen as R. longilingua, and the SDM species indicates suitable areas for its occurrence at high elevations near on the Andes and lowlands of Amazon Basin to the South of the Rio Amazonas. Two specimens of Neusticomys were recorded, and we identified the specimen from Pacaás Novos as N. peruviensis, with SDM suggesting main areas of occurrence on Western Amazon. We applied the name N. ferreirai to the specimen from Pacajá, with SDM recovering suitable areas in Eastern Amazon.


We reinforced the importance of pitfall traps on the study of Neotropical rodents. We described morphologic variation within and among all species that do not invalidate their specific status, but in the near future a re-evaluation will be mandatory. The new records extended the species distribution considerably. SDM was successful to predict their distributions, as the two algorithms presented important differences in range size recovered by the models that can be explained by differences in the thresholds used for the construction of the models. Most suitable areas coincide with the areas facing most of the deforestation in Amazon. We added two rare species of sigmodontine rodents to the list of Brazilian Mammals, which now comprises 722 species (or 775 valid nominal taxa). Although more information is available than in 1996, it is essential that mammal experts maintain inventory and revisionary programs to update and revise this information. This is even more important, as changes in Brazilian environmental legislation are being discussed, suggesting reduced need for environmental impact reports prior to beginning commercial enterprises, resulting in the loss of information about native biodiversity in the affected areas.


Mammalia; MaxEnt; Molar occlusal topography; Neotropical region; Neusticomys; Rhagomys; Skull morphology; Species distribution models; randomForest

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare there are no competing interests.

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